It's something i was raised to not talk about--it just, isn't an appropriate topic of conversation in most situations. Unless, of course, you're telling a friend about a great sale going on in the mall, i mean, that's just being a good friend.
But put someone who frankly, feels kinda awkward talking about money problems in a situation where she's the one who is supposed to be raising money for an organization (ie: me) . . . and there are some issues that need to be addressed.
1. Telling people that your organization is having financial difficulties is not something to be embarrassed about.
In fact, if you are a non-profit (especially one that is just starting up), it should be expected that your organization will be having financial difficulties and desperately needs money. You should probably just get used to it.
2. When your boss drags you along on a business lunch/fundraising meeting learn to adapt a poker face.
Maybe it's just a southern thing, or even just a texas thing--hell, it could be a living on the border thing, i don't know anymore--but people tend to be fairly open and really nosy. Put those two things together and you're going to learn a lot of things you probably didn't expect to hear. Tip for those of us who have horrible poker faces, it's the eyes that betray us--learn to sneeze on cue, that way you'll have your mouth covered and your eyes closed! It's perfect. I'm still working on this one.
3. Just because your boss does things one way, does not mean you have to do things that way too [as long as you're getting the same (or better) results].
My boss is a fan of what she jokingly calls B.M.W. fundraising (Beg, Moan, and Whine) and it works for her, even though it occasionally grates on me (especially during business lunches--see issue #2). But, I already know I'm not going to get anywhere using that method, which brings me to issue 4.
4. Use what you know to get what you need.
My science background means I'm fairly competent at laying out a logical argument and I actually like tables and graphs, i think it makes the information easier to read. So what do I do when I need to get money for my organization? You guessed it--basically, I bore people into donating me money.
Along with this one, use people you know to get what you need. I'm guessing you don't know all the available resources out there--call 411, go to your local chamber of commerce, call local churches, you never know where your resources are until you find them. And then...
5. Follow up on resources that say they're interested in helping out.
It may be embarrassing (see issue 1) and it'll definitely be frustrating, but once you get a lead on a source for help you HAVE to follow up on it, even it means calling back . . . again. A gentle reminder by phone or email once a week never hurt anyone but let's be honest with each other--a restraining order is not going to help your cause. Don't turn into the crazy stalker from the local non-profit.
and last, but not least--
6. Accept donations graciously.
I'll be honest with you, the first time I got a grant awarded to my organization I wanted to jump up and down, pump my fists in the air, and tell the whole wide world what I'd just accomplished. Needless to say, that would have freaked out the treasurer who was handing me the check. So, i just smiled, shook his hand and saved the victory dance for when I was alone in my room. I've come to learn in the past 4 years that bedrooms are perfect places for spontaneous dance parties--victory or otherwise.
So how goes fundraising for my non-profit? Well, add it on to the ever growing list of responsibilities I have to handle and it kinda gets lost in the pile. But, I'm proud to say that in the 6 weeks that I've been down here, I'm just short of raising an even $1,000 for the women's shelter--which isn't a lot, but it's something. and hopefully once this pesky 501-C3 status is figured out I can start applying for the big grants.
Right then. Back to work!